If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably noticed that I don't post every day. That's because, like many others, I meal prep. Meaning I make a bunch of food on the weekend, pack it away, and eat it throughout the week.
Visually, this can get a little boring. However, meal prepping is excellent for:
keeping me on track
preventing me from overeating
spending more money than I need to (guys, I live in Boston, you know I'm on a budget)
those LAZY days where I don't feel like making anything, so I just eat out
Now if you're anything like me, you're probably thinking, "I don't know what to make and eating the same thing every day gets boring." Fair. Meal prepping can seem a little daunting, but you have to trust me it is worth it. Once you have your menu made, you can mix things up to prevent the feeling of OH MY GOD, IF I HAVE TO EAT PLAIN CHICKEN BREAST AND BROCCOLI ONE MORE DAY I WILL LITERALLY DIE.
Why can't there be spell check for handwriting?
Please do not judge me for misspelling tilapia on my meal prep sheet.
SIDE NOTE: An old co-worker of mine gave me this adorable What To Eat planner for a secret Santa swap a few years ago. They have been great for planning. I also write my weekly grocery list on the back of last week's menu.
Let's get to it. What's on the menu for this week?
Breakfast (Monday - Friday):
2 eggs (I splurge for brown eggs, but white eggs are cheaper)
3 slices of thick cut bacon (cut in half, so you get 6 pieces)
1/4 cup (28g) of Sargento 4 Cheese Mexican (or your cheese of choice)
Price (based on Boston prices): Roughly $2.94 per meal ($14.68 total) Nutrition: Calories: 386 | Fat: 29 | Carbs (total): 3 | Fiber: 0 | Sugar: 1 | Protein: 28
I keep my breakfasts simple. I scramble the eggs with the cheese mixed in and fry the bacon.
Lunches (Monday - Friday):
1 cup (85g) of Brussels sprouts (baked or fried - I'm frying mine)
2 oz of kale (baked into kale chips)
4 oz Tilapia (baked or pan fried - I'm baking mine, see recipe below)
Price (based on Boston prices): Roughly $5.25 per meal ($26.27 total)
Nutrition: Calories: 277 | Fat: 15 | Carbs (total): 9 | Fiber: 5 | Sugar: 1 | Protein: 27
These lunches would include some additional ingredients that you would probably have in your kitchen already. Ingredients like butter, oil for frying, and seasoning you like for your fish.
Brussel Sprouts: Cut the Brussels in half. Heat your frying oil (I use olive oil) to 375 degrees, toss Brussels in and fry until brown. Then strain and salt and pepper to taste. They lose crispiness when you reheat throughout the week but taste just as good.
Kale Chips: You don't have to make your kale into chips. I just prefer it. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spread kale over a pan, drizzle with olive oil, salt and bake until crispy (about 18 minutes). Store your kale chips in a plastic bag or container until ready to eat.
Tilapia: There are many different ways to cook fish. Here is how I'm doing it this week. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place tilapia on aluminum foil with enough extra to wrap the fish after adding other ingredients. Take 1 tbsp of butter and cut into three sections. Place two parts beneath the tilapia and 1 part on top after dusting the fish with garlic powder (or minced garlic), onion powder, salt, and pepper. Then squeeze 1-2 tbsp of lemon juice over the fish. Wrap the foil and bake for 10 minutes per 8oz you are cooking. So if you are cooking all five days at once, you'd bake for 25-30 minutes. If it is opaque and flakes when tested with a fork, you know it's done. Or you can be like Josh and use a thermometer, aiming for internal temperature of ~140 degrees.
Dinner (Monday - Friday):
It's a little bit harder to give you price points for these dinners since a lot of the ingredients make multiple meals and you'll only use enough for one-two meals.
1 Salmon fillet (170g)
garlic cauliflower rice (170g)
Nutrition: Calories: 581 | Fat: 38 | Carbs (total): 14 | Fiber: 5 | Sugar: 2 | Protein: 39
Note: I'm trying to eat more fish, in case you're wondering why my meals this week are so fish heavy. I'm going to make my salmon this week much like I do my tilapia. However, I'm also going to add a step after I bake it. Once it's cooked, I'm going to open the foil and broil it at 400 degrees for 5-10 minutes to give it a little crisp.
How to make garlic cauliflower rice? Chop a head of cauliflower into small pieces. You can use a food processor, a knife, OR you can buy frozen riced cauliflower now. Oh, what a time to be alive. In a pan brown some minced garlic (I use 6 cloves because garlic is delicious) with 1-2 tbsp of butter, then mix in the riced cauliflower, season with salt (2 good pinches) and sauté until it starts to brown. Boom. That's it. Delicious.
Nutrition: Calories: 303 | Fat: 30 | Carbs (total): 2 | Fiber: 0 | Sugar: 2 | Protein: 33
Note: Frying cheese, is literally a lifesaver. My pre-keto life included A LOT of mozzarella sticks. Frying cheese tastes like mozzarella sticks with none of the carbs! Just be careful though, because cheese is high calorie.
Shepherd's pie (yup, you can do this low carb)
Nutrition: Calories: 265 | Fat: 20 | Carbs (total): 9 | Fiber: 3 | Sugar: 4 | Protein: 14
1 Salmon filet (170g)
1 cup broiled broccoli
Nutrition: Calories: 525 | Fat: 38 | Carbs (total): 6 | Fiber: 2 | Sugar: 2 | Protein: 39
Note: You can actually bake the broccoli right next to the salmon. I use a separate aluminum foil section for it though. I add 1-2 tablespoons of butter (depending on how much broccoli I'm making) and a dash of lemon juice, then bake and broil with my salmon.
Friday: Eating Out
Note: It's unavoidable that you'll find yourself in a situation where you either need to or want to eat out. Maybe your friends or coworkers want to go out, or maybe you're traveling. Either way, it's bound to happen and to tell yourself that you'll never eat out again is just setting yourself up for failure. The trick is knowing how to turn any restaurant into a keto friendly restaurant. It may take practice and some strong willpower, but I believe in you.
In my case, this week Josh and I are going to visit family in New Jersey this weekend. So, how do I survive a road trip where we need to eat out? I'll pick up some snacking cheese from our grocery store, and we'll stop at a fast food establishment on the way where I will eat either a bunless burger and a side salad or a side salad with a bunless grilled chicken sandwich.
There you have it. Some options for what to eat this week. Check back next week for more low carb meal prep ideas.